For people who don’t live in the design world, the world of fonts is a bit mystifying. There are an endless number of typefaces to chose from – from normal everyday fonts like Times New Roman, to funky fonts, script fonts, heavy fonts, fonts that would horrify any designer – with no way to sort through and understand the options. But it is not all as bad as all you non-designers may think. Consider this – choosing a typeface for a particular design project is a bit like standing in front of your closet in the morning, trying to figure out what to wear.
Just as with clothing, there are different typefaces that are suitable for each occasion, and like clothing, they create often lasting impressions. You probably wouldn’t have a very good recollection of a poster that advertises a beach vacation getaway using a typeface that looks like the headline of the New York Times. On the other hand, a poster advertising for the circus, with a bold and perhaps somewhat vintage looking font, probably would stay with you.
Although there are so many clothes, and so many fonts to choose from, there are certain types you should probably try to stay away from. Parallel to the TOM’s shoe craze, ubiquitous typefaces have been so over-used that they no longer hold the impact that they once had. Helvetica, Times New Roman, Verdana, and Trajan are just a few.
So what do designers think about when considering the right typeface? Each type speaks visually, and it is up to you to figure out exactly what it is saying. Think about its character. Is it playful, serious, or fancy? Think about if it expresses the right attributes for the project, and if it compliments the other elements of the design. Find the right dress for the occasion. Make sure it fits. Make sure the design isn’t showing up to a dinner party in jeans, sneakers and t-shirt.
Next time you are working on a project, or wondering how the designer chooses his or her font, imagine yourself standing in front of a closet full of fonts. Try one on, if it doesn’t work, move on and try another until you find one that fits. Nevertheless, no matter what typeface you end up choosing, make sure to dress for success.